How to run great interviews

Interviews. Some of us love them, some of hate them, but there’s no doubt they’re absolutely essential when it comes to the recruitment process.

If you’ve ever sat in the interview chair as a candidate, you’ll know what a nerve-wracking experience it can be. So as interviewees it’s in our best interests to make the interview process as smooth and efficient as possible, to put the candidates at ease, and therefore get the best from them.

When interviewing for a role, it’s vital to be as prepared as possible and to structure the interview in a way that will help you find the most suitable candidates. Interviews are a two-way street – this is your chance to find the right candidate, yes, but it’s also your interviewee’s chance to find out if this is the role, and the company, for them.

Take a look at these tips on how to run great interviews and boost your interview technique.

1. Set aside more time than you think you need
It seems like an obvious starting point, but it’s really important to give yourself – and your candidates – enough time on the day of the interview. Interviewing is draining and you’ll need plenty of breaks if you’re seeing multiple candidates, to welcome each one with the same level of energy as the next.  Allow time to catch up on your notes and allow time for questions.

2. Communicate the interview process from the start
Make sure your interviewee knows what kind of interview they’re coming along for. If they’re needed for several hours to carry out practical tasks, tell them. If it’s an informal chat, or the first of a three-step interview process, communicate this to them so there are no unexpected surprises.

3. Get familiar with the role and your company values
It goes without saying that you’ll need to have all the details about the role – from the working hours to the day­ to-day duties and rate. This is also your chance to share the company’s vision and values with potential hire. You’ll also want to be able to share any perks or extra benefits available, along with potential pathways for progression.

4. Read and make notes on your candidates’ CV’s
When you’ve read a whole pile of CVs, it can be difficult to distinguish one from the next. Make notes, so you can easily come back to points you’d like to discuss further, or to open up some interesting and more personalised talking points.

5. Craft the right questions for the role
Your questions are the backbone of your interview, and your chance to find out if this applicant will be a great fit for this specific role . So don’t, whatever you do, scrimp on time when it comes to writing yours, or rely on generic questions that won’t get you the answers you need. You’ll want a mixture of questions, which will lead to answers about the specific job requirements, and some that will draw out more behavioural answers to assess how your candidate might react in certain situations. In every case, give your candidate plenty of time to answer, and avoid cliched questions or you’ll simply get a cliched response.

6. Work with HR and combat your bias
There are legalities around the interview process you need to be aware of, so work with your HR team and have them check over your questions.

7. Structure your interview according to the set-up
If you’re interviewing as a panel, you’ll need to work out who is asking which questions, and who is taking notes. If you’ll be asking your candidate to carry out a task, make sure you have all the equipment they’ll need for this. If you’re conducting an interview remotely, ensure you’ve fully tested the technology you’re using on the day.

8. Wrap things up properly
At the end of the interview, after you’ve allowed your candidate some time to ask questions of their own, let them know when they can expect to hear about whether they’ve been successful. Then, once they’ve left the interview room, use the time you’ve built in as a buffer to check through your notes. These notes will be priceless if your candidate requests feedback, which is a helpful way for them to improve.